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I was born in Moscow on March 17, 1908 but I grew up
in the town of Tver (which has been renamed Kalinin).
That, I feel, gives me grounds for considering myself a
native of Kalinin.
My father, a barrister-at-law, died of tuberculosis in
1916. I scarcely remember him, but judging from the fine
library of classical Russian and foreign literature that
he had put together and from what I heard from my
mother, he must have been a progressive and widely-read
man for his day. After his death, my mother, who was a
doctor, went to work in a factory hospital and we moved
to the houses belonging to the huge Morozov Textile Mill.
There I spent my childhood and youth.
We lived in the "houses for employees", but I had
friends among the workers' children and went to school
with them. My mother was often too busy at the hospital
to give me any of her time, and so I spent most of the
day with my friends in the workers' "bedrooms", as the
hostels were called at that time, and on the outskirts of
the settlements. In general, I did quite well at school, but
I had no particular enthusiasm. My spare time was
divided between the Tmaka, a grimy little factory stream,
and the books from my father's library. Gorky was my
favourite author. When my father and mother were
students they worshipped him, and the family library
contained almost all of his pre-revolutionary works.
The town's newspaper was called Tverskaya Pravda.
A large worker-correspondents' organisation was set up
at the factory in the 1920s and a branch editorial office
was opened in the pump-house. We boys were awed by
the people entering or coming out of that small brick
building. They were worker-correspondents! They wrote
for the newspaper. A fitter, who was the chairman of that
organisation, became one of the most popular men at
the factory.